Somerset v Indians, Taunton, 3rd day July 17, 2011

Strauss shines as Somerset dominate in draw


Somerset 425 for 3 dec (Suppiah 156, Compton 88, Strauss 78) and 260 for 2 dec (Strauss 109*, Trego 85*) drew with Indians 224 (Raina 103*, Willoughby 6-76) and 69 for 0

If the forthcoming Test series goes well for Andrew Strauss and England, Somerset should be top of his Christmas card list. After finding form in the first innings, he made the most of his second knock with an unbeaten 109 as India were left with precious little to take from the match other than Suresh Raina's 103 earlier on the final day.

However, like in the first innings where Arul Suppiah outshone the England captain with a career-best 156, the limelight was taken away by another Somerset batsman as Peter Trego hammered a 57-ball 85 off the struggling Indian attack before the home side, somewhat sympathetically, declared at tea to allow the visitors another brief innings. At least Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund eased themselves to an unbroken 69 before another shower ended the match, and India headed to London with their tail between their legs.

Trego arrived with Amit Mishra on a hat-trick but wickets were soon a long way from the legspinner's mind as he was left watching the ball sail regularly into the stands. Trego's half-century came up with the third of four consecutive leg-side sixes, and the umpires twice needed to find replacement balls. At one stage Mishra had bowled three overs for 61 and it went from a being a tough warm-up for the tourists to something of an embarrassment, although they will try to play down the significance.

It was no surprise that the home side didn't enforce the follow-on after the Indians were bowled out and the Somerset opening pair again made comfortable progress. Zaheer Khan didn't take the field - and neither did Sachin Tendulkar - but the team manager insisted he was purely resting which seemed an odd decision after a wicketless first innings where Zaheer looked in far from peak form. And if he didn't want to show himself to Strauss again, that suggests the pressure has shifted.

The remaining Indian bowlers went through the motions and the pattern was similar to the first innings. Munaf Patel was steady but unthreatening while Sreesanth was expensive. Strauss dominated the scoring, although not quite in the fashion of the opening day as Suppiah rode on the confidence of his first-innings hundred.

Strauss had barely an alarm as he cruised past fifty and tucked into some friendly bowling. He took three consecutive boundaries off Sreesanth, who kept dropping short, and also came down the pitch at Mishra to drive him for a straight six - many more of those would follow. Trego's onslaught meant he was quickly catching Strauss, but the England captain went to his hundred from 122 balls with a late cut shortly before tea.

Mishra had provided the Indians with momentary relief when he claimed two wickets in two balls but they were costly successes. His figures would soon take an even greater hammering, probably leaving him wishing he hadn't broken the opening stand. Suppiah lost his shape when he came down the pitch and got an outside edge to backward point then James Hildreth edged a legbreak behind first ball.

Earlier, Raina gave the Indians their one bright spot for the match as he raced to an unbeaten century to lift the visitors to 224. He added a final-wicket stand of 84 in 12 overs with Munaf of which the No. 11 contributed six. Raina needed just 37 balls to go from his fifty to a hundred as he cut loose after Sreesanth had lost his off stump to become Charl Willoughby's sixth wicket.

Rania drove, pulled and flicked five sixes which damaged Willoughby's figures while Alfonso Thomas also took some punishment. His hundred arrived from 110 balls courtesy of a misfield at mid-off but he didn't have the chance to add many more as Munaf was lbw to legspinner Max Waller soon after.

Raina's innings - and Yuvraj's duck on the second day - will have sealed the debate over India's No. 6 spot for Lord's. Strauss probably would not have minded having an extended look at Raina, someone England haven't faced before in Tests. He has gained more than he may have expected from his brief stint in the south-west.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    It's awarm up game. It's not the end of the road! With VVS Laxman, Dhon, Ishant Sharmai and Harbhajan in the Indian team for the Lords Test match, Andrew Strauss's batting will come under real test. Glorious Cricket is ahead, with Lords Test beginning on 21st July 2011.

  • sachit on July 19, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    @chapathishot - Ireland will also do much better than #1 ranked teams who according to a cricinfo columnist, " Outside of the subcontinent and Zimbabwe have won two Tests in an away series only twice - New Zealand in 1968, and England in 1986". and that too after playing for over 70 years.

  • BALASUBRAMANIAN on July 19, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    Yevghenny, I don't know since when you've been watching the longer format of the game. For me it's 50 years & more. The touring party will never spill out their beans in one go and exposing their strengths & weaknesses to the opposition even before the Test series. The strategy adopted in practice matches vary vastly from what is actually adopted in Test matches; being short of playing in cool bouncy conditions Indians would have adopted the strategy of forcing the opposition to enforce the follow on. Now you may argue, there was no practice match prior to Test matches in WI. T20 & ODIs were enough practice matches & moreover the heat & humid conditions are quite akin to those in India. Now you understand why I wrote it? Longer format of the game is all about strategies & mind game and winning by outwitting the opposition & not about slam bang masala cricket.

  • Mevan on July 18, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    @chapathishot-Yes yes some teams spend 35 yrs to win its first away home test match..Had won only 13 away home teat matches as at 2000, after getting test status in 1932..what a GREAT TEAM We have

  • Dummy4 on July 18, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    zaheer ,ishant praveen aint better than asif,aamir gul or wahab riaz despite the attack pak losed badly. If eng get 400 in 1st inings than mark my words india are in a real trouble no matter if its ist 2nd or third test

  • Unni on July 18, 2011, 16:47 GMT

    @ KavumPerethaya:I agree with you 100% if we gave Ireland Test status they would beat every test playing country at home and away at least once in next 15 years.Not like so called great teams who could only win at a single ground at home even after more than 30 years of test cricket let alone not having a single win in some of the test playing countries even in places similar to home conditions.

  • Dummy4 on July 18, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    @ rahulcricket007 R u mad? Randiv is better than Swann?!! If u had said 'Bhajji is better I wouldn't have commented, but Randiv?!!...No Way!! He is a decent 1st class level offy, but nowhere near Swann's class! Also the only bowlers who will be thrashed out of the park wear LIGHT blue for limited overs games!

  • MANU on July 18, 2011, 15:08 GMT

    Saha duck.Selectors still include him.Parthiv or kartik would have been better.

  • Anto on July 18, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    Indians are known for slow starters!! so it doesn't matter.but remember, they could take any attack on this world. so do not write off india by this practise match!

  • Absar on July 18, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    its funny to see the reacttions of supporters from both sides... its JUST a warm up game... big deal... real match starts on 21st... Buckle up...

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